It’s bedtime. The girls are asking for a story.
My repertoire of stories is limited. I’ve told them all lots of times, they want new ones, and I can’t think of any.
Tell us a story about you and Daddy, they say.
Okay, I say: Have I told you about how Daddy asked me to marry him twice?
Tell us! they say, and I lean back against the white rails of the bottom bunk and tell the stories.
Oxford, Ohio. 1991.
The end of my sophomore year in college. I’m with a group of friends uptown on a Saturday evening. My boyfriend at the time, I’m not sure where he is.
It might be finals week. He might be studying. I don’t remember.
There are four of us around the table, eating frozen yogurt from Styrofoam cups with long plastic spoons. Mine’s chocolate.
The lone male in the group takes off a ring from his right hand. It’s shaped like a wedding band but it has a colorful design. He bought the ring last summer while traveling in Turkey. He and his friend Vince each bought a ring to show their commitment to return to Turkey someday.
He holds up the ring, places it on the table; he asks: “Who wants to marry me and go to Turkey?”
I forget about my boyfriend for a moment (where is he? I can’t remember.) and I pick up the ring without hesitating. I slide it on my finger. I hold out my hand to admire the ring.
“I’ll marry you and go to Turkey,” I say.
I smile. Then I hand the ring back across the table. But I’m still thinking about the proposal.
I’m entranced by the possibility of going to Turkey and I’m intrigued by the guy across the table.
Kansas City, Missouri, August 1992.
I’ve just returned from a summer in Turkey. My face is tan and freckled from days in the sun and my hair is red from henna. I am in my parents’ kitchen with…
With Daddy, right?
Yes, with Daddy. But he’s not your Daddy yet.
I made him some peach cobbler. I serve him some cobbler and I sit down beside him. He grabs my hand.
I look down, close my eyes, thinking we’re going to pray.
I feel him press something sharp into my palm. “What are you doing?” I say.
I look at him and he asks, “Will you marry me?” Then I let him slide the ring on my finger.
“Of course, I’ll marry you,” I say. And then we kiss. For the very first time.
(I embellish this part for the girls, while they’re still young. I’m not ready for them to like boys or think about kissing. I’d like them to believe, for as long as possible, that kissing is what married people do. Or engaged people. Or whatever.
I also know, as I write it, that it will seem strange to you. I know it’s unusual that we waited to kiss until our engagement. But we did, and it’s part of the story.)
So, we kiss. And then, overcome by nerves or emotions, I run to the bathroom: heaving, sick. (Not a pretty part of the story, but also true.)
We celebrate 18 years of marriage. I said yes to two proposals and I am still saying yes, every day.
Yes: to the intriguing guy across the table.
Yes: to love. Yes: to this life we are sharing. Yes: to whatever the future holds.
Tell me something! Share your proposal story. Or wish me a happy anniversary. Or tell me what you are saying yes to today.
Today is also my friend Sharlyn Lauby’s wedding anniversary. Hop over to her blog, The HR Bartender, where she is hosting the Leadership Development Carnival. The Leadership Development Carnival is a great place to find excellent posts to help you grow as a leader. Today, she features 45 blog posts, all gifts to help you learn and grow. Don’t miss them.